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Looking back on a great local sports rivalry

The Georgia Athletic Coaches Association inducted six new members into their Hall of Fame in ceremonies held in Dalton last Saturday. One of these inductees is a name that will be very familiar to many long time Thomson football fans. Former Washington-Wilkes football coach Charlie Davidson is this man.

Davidson coached the Tigers for 19 seasons before leaving in 1972 to spend 13 seasons as the head coach at Darlington, a GHSA affiliated private school in Rome, Ga. Davidson compiled an overall record of 244-96-14 and led Washington-Wilkes to state football championships in 1960, 1963, 1966 and 1967.

Assuming that few of our readers would be interested in history concerning Washington-Wilkes football, I consulted the Georgia High School Football Historians Association website to see how the Tigers four state championship teams fared against the Thomson High School Bulldogs.

The 1960 Washington-Wilkes team had only two blemishes on its' record. They opened the season with a loss to Lincolnton, who would go on to win that season's Class C state championship. In the season's seventh week, the Tigers and the Thomson Bulldogs battled to a 13-13 tie in The Brickyard.

Thomson finished 1960 with a record of 7-2-1 and did not qualify for the state playoffs. Interestingly enough, the pollsters of the day gave Thomson the state's number two ranking at the end of the season. Apparently, their performance in 1960 was deemed second best in the state even though they did not get to compete for the official crown.

I would be remiss if I failed to credit Jenkins County for playing the Tigers in the 1960 championship game. The Tigers won that game by a score of 40-0. My wife Pam was three weeks short of her fourth birthday, and she cannot remember traveling to Washington to watch her hometown Eagles and future alma mater lay claim to their brief moment of football glory. Needless to say there has never been another such opportunity. (As Pam would quickly remind me, not even when I was a coach at Jenkins County.)

Now back to Coach Davidson versus Thomson. 1963 saw Coach Davidson's only victory over Thomson while coaching one of his championship teams. The game was played in Washington with the outcome being 7-0. This was Coach Paul Leroy's second season at the helm of the Bulldogs and one of only 14 games that Coach Leroy lost during his entire tenure at THS. He won 47 and tied two.

The Tigers had a lot of close calls during the 1963 season besides the one with Thomson, including their 21-19 win over Bradwell Institute for the state championship.

Coach Davidson brought an undefeated and top-ranked team into the Brickyard on October 7, 1966, and left with a 14-0 loss at the hands of Coach Leroy's Bulldogs. Elliott Poss, later to become the head coach at Presbyterian College and now the principal of Elbert County High School, quarterbacked the Tigers.

On October 6, 1967, the undefeated and top-ranked Tigers and Thomson met in Washington. Washington-Wilkes suffered their lone loss of the season to the Bulldogs by a score of 7-0. The Tigers came into the game averaging over 42 points per game but could muster zilch against Coach Leroy's soon-to-be Class A state champs.

This game was the only really close game that either team played all year except for the Tiger's 20-20 tie with Statesboro. Thomson defeated Westminster 20-0, and Washington-Wilkes beat Lyons 27-0 in their respective title games. This would be Thomson's first ever state championship and Washington-Wilkes' last.

Charlie Davidson was one of the biggest contributors from north of Little River to the legendary Thomson vs. Washington-Wilkes series. His well-deserved Hall of Fame induction did not come at the expense of the Thomson High School Bulldogs however. That makes it easier for those of us south of the river to offer our congratulations. We must also remember to credit him with helping keep the rivalry alive even as Thomson High was growing into a larger school.

Web posted on Thursday, June 9, 2005


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Updated: 04-Nov-2010 10:01

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